Quick History of Cornwall

The name "Cornwall" is derived from the words Cornovii, meaning hill dwellers, and Waelas, meaning strangers. Its history began around 2500 B.C. during the Bronze Age, when trade in tin and copper started growing. Many traders would bring gold ornaments and bronze tools, and exchange them for the minerals.

Over time Cornwall became a major source of tin and copper for most of Western Europe. Remnants of the Bronze Age can be seen in places like West Penwith Uplands and on Bodmin Moor. From excavations done in the area it is believed that the people who lived in Cornwall lived in villages, practised metalwork and farming, and were fairly organised.

Then around 550 B.C. Britain was invaded by the Celts who were civilized, highly organized, and well trained in battle. They farmed, mined for bronze, copper, tin and iron, smelted and worked the metal. Most of there villages were located on hilltops and well fortified against attack.

For over 900 years Cornwall retained most of its Celtic influence until about 450 A.D. when the Jutes and Anglo Saxons invaded Britain and the Celts were forced into the remote parts of Britain. In 838 A.D. Cornwall (Kernow) became the last region of Britain to accede to the Saxons. Cornwall became federated, and maintained its identity, as its’ culture and language strengthened and flourished. The Duke of Cornwall was the ruler, and he had in Cornwall, similar powers to the ruler of England.

Cornwall was made an earldom by William the Conqueror in 1066, and in 1337 King Edward III named his son Edward, the “Black Prince”, Duke of Cornwall. The eldest son of the monarch, still to this day, holds this title.

Cornwall retained most of its’ Celtic identity, throughout the dark ages and the industrial revolution. Its demographics began to change during the 17th century, with improved transportation links, and the advent of the railway, which brought people to all parts of Britain. With this new opening up of Britain it was not long before most of the Cornish workforce abandoned agriculture for work in the many tin and copper mines that were springing up.

By the start of the 20th century the mining boom had faded, and so in an effort to secure a new income Cornwall turned to tourism. Cornwall has capitalised on its geography, which includes miles of sandy beaches, coastal walks, open moorland and the best climate in Britain that sees spring coming early, and autumn staying longer.

Part of Cornwall’s appeal is its rich history which also includes myths and legends. One of its’ more famous legends is that of The Merry Maiden stones, which is a group of nineteen stones in a large circle, though to have been used in a religious rite during prehistoric times. The Hurlers of St. Cleer are another set of stones said to serve as warning against fun and games on the Sabbath day and are though to be Druidical in origin.  Jack the Giant Killer, Giant Bolster, The Lost Land of Lyonesse, and the Lady of the Lake are other famous legends from Cornwall.

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